We haven’t talked flags in a while, so let’s jump back into some vexillogical discussion.
In our previous flag post we established that the St. Pierre & Miquelon flag reigned supreme as the fairest of them all, and we pointed out some other beauties as well.
Today we’re talking more about decoding flag imagery. While some of the world’s flags are pretty straightforward, many are a bit more coy and need some deciphering.
Bhutan – With absolutely no offense toward the majestic bald eagle, I’m not sure any country has a cooler national representative than the ‘Thunder Dragon.’ Here, we see the mighty Druk, as Thunder Dragon is called, on a yellow and orange background. The orange represents Buddhism while yellow is a nod to the country’s monarchy.
Look a bit closer and you can see that Druk is also clutching some things in his talons here. I thought they were bowling balls or maybe large cherries at first glance, but it turns out they are gems, which represent the country’s wealth. This seems a bit incongruous with Bhutan’s “gross national happiness” policy, but Druk does what Druk wants I suppose.
I also just noticed that the gems could be construed as wheels. In which case Druk looks like a super-aggressive tricycle for the baddest kids on the block.
Uganda – On most flags, the colors are not arbitrary. For instance in the case of Uganda, the yellow is said to represent sunshine and vitality, while the black and the red symbolize the African people and African brotherhood respectively. That crazy looking creature in the middle is a Grey Crowned Crane, the country’s national symbol.
Nepal – This one-of-a-kind flag is rife with symbolism. The red color represents Nepal’s national flower, the rhododendron, while the blue signifies peace. The unique triangle shapes, depending on who you ask, represent either the Himalayas or Nepal’s major religions, Hinduism and Buddhism.
I always thought the moon on the top pennant there looked suspiciously like one on the Grand Poobah hat worn by Fred Flintstone. Not sure if there’s any connection there?
While we’re speculating, let’s just say that the sunburst on the bottom triangle is an homage to Nepalese national hero Bob Seger (sorry Silver Bullet Band).
Mongolia – We’ve seen national dragons, birds and flowers; how about a “national emblem?” Mongolia’s flag features the soyombo, which is a “columnar arrangement of abstract and geometric representation for fire, sun, moon, earth, water, and the yin-yang symbol.”
The blue and red colors represent the sky and prosperity respectively.
Personally if I was on the Mongolia Flag Design Committee, I would have incorporated some Genghis Khan/marauding hordes sweeping across Central Asia elements, but this one is pretty cool I guess.
Kyrgyzstan – This one’s for all you Bishkek lovers out there! On this sneakily complex flag we have a sun on a red background. (I did just confirm that it is indeed a sun, and not one of those things you shoot in Metroid). Out of the sun, 40 rays protrude, which represent the 40 tribes of Kyrgyzstan.
That strange design on the sun is also meaningful. It is supposed to represent a… “tunduk, which is the crown of the traditional Kyrgyz yurt.”
This is all dynamite stuff you should definitely try to bring up at your next dinner party! Try your best to work some of these useful flag facts into the conversation and dazzle everyone with your knowledge on traditional Kyrgyz yurts. Your wife and friends will be delighted and hanging on every word!